How Safe is Grass for Horses?


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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7 Responses

  1. AnneMarie says:

    Re beetpulp, I have been told that the calcium/fosfor is not good when you give only beetpulp and therefor one has to mix it with bran.
    Can you confirm and give the ratio please, as I am not sure how to mix it?

    • then5925 says:

      Hi Annemarie,

      If you’re feeding very much beet pulp then yes, adding something high in phosphorus to the beet pulp (which is high in calcium) is recommended. As for the ratio, I can’t really say exactly–it would depend on how much beet pulp you’re wanting to feed. Is the horse eating grass or hay as well? Also, does the horse have metabolic issues like Cushing’s or insulin resistance? If so, you won’t want to feed very much rice bran–wheat bran may be a better choice.

      • AnneMarie says:

        I used it for 2 of my horses that are really too thin whereas the other two are just too fat; they all can eat the same: mostly hay at their heart’s content.
        Very little grass due to the dry weather.
        I read somewhere a ratio of 1:4 beet pulp/bran, but these people also were not sure…
        It is wheat bran.

        • then5925 says:

          Hi Annemarie,

          I just found this article on beet pulp from Dr. Getty–

          She says not to worry about feeding too much calcium with beet pulp because the calcium is not as readily absorbed by the horse. So in that case, I would probably stick with the 4:1 ratio (and I wouldn’t feed more than a cup or 2 of wheat bran anyways). But that is just my opinion!

  2. Patti says:

    Hi Casie,

    I would like your advice on my situation. I’ve had my Arabian mare for 7 months. I put her on a free-choice diet using slow-feeding hay nets. She lives in a stall, but gets a 3-day turnout in a dry lot. She gets 2 cups a day of low-sugar grain which is used for her ulcer herbs (she’s a picky eater and this worked the best). This summer she has not gotten much exercise due to our Arizona heat. She has gained quite a bit of weight. I’m planning on moving her next week to a pasture boarding. This pasture has dry bermuda grass and weeds. It will be irrigated and it will green up. I will have access to a large stall and arena area for her. I’m concerned about her excess weight and possibly being a candidate for laminitis. I’m confused about the safety of pastures as stated by and Joe Camp’s experience with his horses being out in green pastures and never foundering. What do you think would be the best approach for my situation? Sorry for the long post!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Patti–I answered most of this on Facebook under your post, but as for vs. Joe Camp’s experience, I think they both are right! I believe horses can live safely on grass so long as they are not mineral deficient, aren’t experiencing continual stress, and live in a herd (or get plenty of exercise via riding, etc.) If your horse lives alone or maybe with just one other horse, she may not move around as much on the pasture and therefore may overeat and become a candidate for laminitis. I’ve kept my horses on pasture for most all my life and have never had a laminitis episode until this year when my oldest (who is IR and Cushing’s) developed mild laminitis after a pasture change. She is recovering well though. In your situation, if your horse is already overweight, I would either use a grazing muzzle (if she can tolerate it) or keep her dry lotted with free choice hay for most of the daylight hours (when sugars are highest in grass) and then maybe pasture turnout at night. It’s good that you’re thinking ahead though–not everyone does, and that’s when problems can arise. Best of luck with this transition!

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